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Customers Want Personalized Content and Data-Driven Commerce

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Republished from The Digital Economy Report

Digital has changed everything in today’s world of online commerce. Personalization of digital experiences is no longer an extra, but an expectation. If a customer has visited your site once, they expect you to recognize them on subsequent visits and they expect a tailored experience.

A study by Janrain showed that the majority of consumers – 75 percent – like it when brands personalize messaging and offers. Personalization is a win-win; customers are presented with what they want to see, and in turn they’re more apt to have higher conversion rates and greater satisfaction.

In fact, O2’s study The Rise of Me-tail shows that adding personalization to a shopping experience could lift sales by 7.8 percent. In order to provide a personalized experience, businesses must leverage data from multiple sources, and apply that data to serve customers with relevant content, product recommendations and services based on intent, location, and interests.

Contextualization – knowing your customer’s interests, behavior, and content preferences across all channels – is a more thoughtful and comprehensive approach to personalization that is quickly becoming a key component of the customer experience.

A single action or purchase should not be the only insight a company uses to dictate what content and offers a customer receives. Businesses should be constantly monitoring behaviors, collecting data, and using those observations to inform and improve future experiences. Contextualization looks at a customer’s browsing history, demographic information, browsing activity prior to landing on your site, the device they’re using and more.

Thinking about contextualization requires your business to consider the entire path a customer might take over the course of multiple site visits. This includes what pages, products or offers you’ve driven them to, as well as what content they have interacted with on their own. Having a clear understanding of all browsing paths and interactions leads to a better view of the customer’s experience.

While contextualization is often seen within retail, all businesses and industries can benefit from this customer-centric shift. Media, entertainment and publishing companies, for example, can improve engagement and readership by looking at audience data and delivering customized content with each and every visit.

The vast majority, as much as 95 percent, of site visitors are typically anonymous, but that doesn’t mean they are unknown. From the very first visit to your site, information is collected from each user, which becomes the foundation for building their unified customer profile. This profile will continue to grow with each new visit, whether the customers identify themselves or not.

Then ideally, if they choose to sign up for an e-mail or register a product, their known profile will be merged with their anonymous one, creating a cohesive view of who they are, what interests them and how they have interacted with your brand in the past.

Unified customer profiles extend beyond your site to all touch points where your customers interact with your brand, both on and offline. It’s not enough to have a personalized experience on your main site alone, but across all your sites, across all devices and in your physical locations as well.

A study by Content Plus found that 70 percent of consumers prefer getting to know a company through content rather than advertisements, which means personalizing a site experience through delivery of effective, relevant content is even more imperative for creating a seamless experience across all channels.

Taking this cross-channel approach ensures that your customer receives the same personalized experience regardless of where they are interacting with you. As they engage across channels, this gives your brand the opportunity to collect more and more data, and to continue to improve your customer’s experience, gain their trust, build loyalty and set expectations.

The brands that conquer contextualization are those that intuitively know each of their customers, and can dynamically and continuously update their user profile to deliver personalized content and offers.

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